Potato powder and potato starch are both popular ingredients used in cooking and baking. Though they sound similar and both originate from potatoes, they are quite different products with distinct properties, uses, and nutritional profiles.
Understanding exactly how potato powder differs from potato starch is important to use them correctly in recipes and get the best results.
What is Potato Powder?
Potato powder, sometimes labeled as potato flour, is made from whole potatoes that have been cooked, dried, and ground into a fine powder. This maintains much of the potato's natural nutritional value and also gives potato powder a distinct potato flavor.
Key Takeaway: Potato powder provides the nutritional benefits of whole potatoes in the form of a gluten-free baking flour with a potato-like taste.
What is Potato Starch?
Potato starch is extracted from raw potatoes, leaving behind everything but the starchy component. The starch is then dried and ground into a silky, white powder.
Since it contains no fibers, proteins or nutrients from the potato, potato starch has an extremely neutral flavor. The fine powder is used mainly as a thickening agent in recipes instead of traits like potato flavor or protein content.
While both originate from potatoes, potato powder and potato starch have quite distinct properties when it comes to texture, taste, and how they function in cooking:
- Potato powder is made from cooked, dried, whole potatoes ground into powder. This maintains potato nutrients and flavor compounds.
- Potato starch is extracted and isolated from raw potatoes. Most nutrients are lost besides the starch.
- Potato powder has a coarse, grainy texture similar to whole grain flours.
- Potato starch is an extremely fine, silky powder that resembles cornstarch.
- Potato powder has a noticeable potato flavor.
- Potato starch is completely neutral tasting.
- Potato powder readily absorbs water.
- Potato starch resists absorbing water until heated.
- Potato powder is used as a gluten-free, high-protein baking flour and thickener.
- Potato starch is used mainly as a neutral thickening agent.
Uses for Potato Powder
The potato flavor and protein content make potato powder very useful as a substitute for regular flours:
Gluten-Free and Grain-Free Baking
Potato powder can replace a portion or all of the wheat flour called for in recipes for breads, muffins, cookies, and cakes. It creates moist, tender baked goods with a deliciously hearty potato flavor.
For best results, swap about 1/4 to 1/3 of the wheat flour for potato powder. Replacing more tends to make baked goods gummy.
Like cornstarch or wheat flour, potato powder can thicken liquids in recipes ranging from soups and gravies to fruit pie fillings. It creates a rich, velvety texture with extra nutrition.
Enhance Potato Flavor
Adding a couple tablespoons of potato powder when making mashed potatoes or potato pancakes gives an extra boost of flavor. It also helps bind the ingredients together.
Breading meat, fish, or veggies in potato powder instead of regular flour creates a crispy crust with a tasty potato aroma.
Sprinkling a couple teaspoons of potato powder over dishes adds a boost of nutrients like protein, vitamins and minerals.
Uses for Potato Starch
Since it's neutral-flavored, potato starch is popular for the texture it provides rather than nutrients or taste:
Potato starch is most commonly used as a thickening agent for sauces, gravies, soups and stews. It creates glossy, translucent gels without altering appearance or taste.
In gluten-free baked goods, potato starch lightens texture, helping replace the roles of gluten and wheat flour. Combined with other gluten-free flours, it improves moisture, structure and rise.
Dredging foods in potato starch before frying creates an ulta-crispy, crunchy exterior that stays crisper longer compared to flour coatings.
Some followers of keto, paleo and low-FODMAP diets add potato starch to smoothies, yogurt or water. They believe it acts as a prebiotic fiber to improve digestion and gut health. However, there is limited evidence to support these health claims currently.
Since potato powder contains all the components of a whole potato, it offers far more nutritional value compared to isolated potato starch:
Potato Powder Nutrition
- High in potassium, which regulates fluid balance and nerve signaling.
- Provides B vitamins including vitamin B6, thiamin and niacin. These support energy metabolism and brain health.
- Contains vitamin C, an antioxidant that fights cellular damage and boosts immunity.
- Supplies magnesium for bone health, muscle function and DNA synthesis.
- Good source of iron required for oxygen transport in blood cells.
- High in fiber to promote healthy digestion and heart health.
Potato Starch Nutrition
- Contains very minimal protein, almost no vitamins or minerals besides small amounts of calcium and iron.
- Mainly composed of starch (a carbohydrate). But this resistant starch may provide digestive health benefits.
So while potato powder offers a wide array of nutrients, potato starch supplies almost none and just functions as a source of carbohydrate and fiber.
For those seeking maximum nutrition from their potato ingredients, potato powder is the best choice by far. Potato starch is preferred when texture or neutral flavor is the priority rather than nutrients.
The nutrients in potato powder provide extensive health benefits:
- Protein supports building muscle mass and nourishing tissues.
- Potassium regulates heart beat and blood pressure.
- B vitamins aid converting food into cellular energy.
- Vitamin C strengthens immune defenses against pathogens.
- Fiber normalizes bowel function and lowers cholesterol.
Compared to potato starch, the vitamins and minerals in potato powder are better able to combat health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and digestive disorders.
On the other hand, some believe potato starch provides unique digestive benefits as a prebiotic fiber that feeds healthy probiotic gut bacteria. However, more research is still needed to confirm advantages for human health so far.
Potato powder and potato starch cannot reliably substitute for each other in recipes because of major differences in texture, density and water absorption.
However, in a pinch here are some suitable alternatives:
Potato Powder Substitutes
Potato Starch Substitutes
- Tapioca flour / starch
- Arrowroot powder
When substituting, you'll likely need to tweak the liquid amounts in the recipe through trial and error.
Storing Potato Powder and Starch
Like other baking ingredients and starches, both potato powder and starch should be:
- Stored in an airtight container
- Kept in a cool, dry location
- Away from light, heat, and moisture
Under proper storage conditions, they can remain fresh for 9-12 months at room temperature. Signs either has spoiled are off odors, taste and appearance changes. Any spoiled powder or starch should be discarded.
For longest shelf life up to 1 year, consider refrigerating or freezing. This better preserves nutrients and flavor as well.
Is potato powder gluten free?
Yes. Since it contains no wheat, potato powder is naturally 100% gluten free. This makes it an ideal flour substitute for anyone with gluten intolerance or on a gluten-free diet.
What's the best substitute for potato powder?
The best substitutes for potato powder are potato flakes, instant mashed potato flakes or tapioca flour/starch. Arrowroot starch also works in some recipes. However, the potato flavor and some texture qualities may be difficult to reproduce with substitutes.
How do you make potato powder at home?
Making potato powder is relatively simple. Start by peeling and thoroughly cooking potatoes until very soft. Then dehydrate the potatoes using a food dehydrator or low oven until completely dried out. Finally, grind the dehydrated potatoes into powder using a high-powered blender, food processor or spice grinder. Store in an air-tight container.
Does potato starch have gluten?
No, potato starch does not contain gluten so it is considered gluten-free. This makes it useful as an alternative to regular wheat-based thickeners for anyone following a gluten-free diet for health needs or by personal choice.
While potato powder and potato starch both originate from potatoes, they are produced differently and have distinct uses.
Potato powder provides the flavor and nutrients of whole potatoes while potato starch offers only neutral-flavored thickness thanks to its pure starch content.